2012 Book 7: Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know

According to Goodreads.com Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know is a comprehensive collection of tales edited by the American essayist, editor, critic, and lecturer, Hamilton Wright Mabie. 
Most of the tales in this compilation were ones I was familiar with. Though there did seem to be some differences in how some of the stories went. For example, this compilation has the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk AND Jack the Giant Killer. I am not sure that the Jack’s are the same character but I thought the Giant in Jack and the Beanstalk was the one to say, “Fe Fi Fo Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman.” However, according to this book, that line belongs to a Giant in Jack the Giant Killer.  Furthermore, this compilation calls Cinderella “Cinderbritches” and Goldilocks “Silver Hair.” There were also a few stories I had never heard before, including The White Cat and The Light Princess.

What I gleaned from reading these stories is that fairy tales are extremely gruesome and I am not sure that children should read them. Maybe wait until they are teenagers or pre-teens?

2012 Book 6: Mockingjay

I finally wrapped up The Hunger Games trilogy. I stayed up until midnight to finish Mockingjay {this was tough since I had to get up to feed Jack shortly after going to sleep… such is life with an infant}.

Overall I really enjoyed the trilogy. My first impressions are that The Hunger Games was my favorite book of the three. Mockingjay was a bit intense and I feel like the movie version of this book will be incredibly gory… not sure that I will be able to watch it.

I was a bit disappointed in the deaths of certain characters {don’t want to spoil it for those of you who haven’t read the trilogy yet}, but believe they were necessary to the plot. Also I wish that the characters of Coin and Boggs were more developed. I kind of felt like I was just thrown into book 3 without much set up. Since I had waited almost a month between reading Catching Fire and Mockingjay, there were a few times that my tired mommy brain couldn’t figure out what was going on from the previous storyline.

I really liked the ending and believed that Katness chose the right boy for her {again, I don’t want to spoil it}.

Excerpts from the book: 

I begin to fully understand the lengths to which people have gone to protect me. What I mean to the rebels. My ongoing struggle against the Capitol, which has so often felt like a solitary journey, has not been undertaken alone. I have had thousands upon thousands of people from the districts at my side. I was their Mockingjay long before I accepted the role.

I’m sick of people lying to me for my own good. Because really it’s mostly for their own good.

“That’s why I killed Cato…and he killed Thresh…and he killed Clove…and she tried to kill me. It just goes around and around, and who wins? Not us. Not the districts. Always the Capitol. But I’m tired of being a piece in their Games.”
Am I really that cold and calculating? Gale didn’t say, “Katniss will pick whoever it will break her heart to give up,” or even “whoever she can’t live without.” Those would have implied I was motivated by a kind of passion. But my best friend predicts I will choose the person who I think I “can’t survive without.”

What I need to survive is not —–‘s fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only —– can give me that.

2012 Book 5: The Postmistress

Another war story for the year. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake is about a wife who is waiting at home for her husband to come back from war and the letter that is never delivered to her.

The start of this book felt a bit erratic to me, but I am glad I finished it. I think I need a break from war stories.

Excerpts from the book:

All there was was the story she had told, not what happened around the edges.

Life seemed to her like a city hotel with many floors. She did not like to think of all the hallways she’d never seen, nor all the hallways that she might have walked along if she had gotten off at a different floor. She didn’t like to think that there was more than one hallway than the one she was in…

When we know there are people in need, right now, in the same breath as what we are breathing, we cannot look away. It is no abstract. We have to go. That is humanity. The whole thing relies on it. Human beings do not look away.

One day someone you saw ever day was there and the next he was not. This was the only way Frankie had to report the Blitz.

…The Jews were being interned because they were Jews, and were being denied refuge on the basis of being Jews.

…he’d come to understand that each one of us was alive, intensely alive, right until the instant of death. And then each of us was gone. There could be no substitutions.

When the Germans come they will simply come, and there won’t be an announcement.

We can’t change what is coming. Something is always coming.

2012 Book 4: Shanghai Girls

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See is a historical novel about two sisters who end up immigrating from China to America in the 1930’s. It is a glimpse into what it would have been like to be an immigrant of Asiatic descent during a difficult period. 
Ultimately it is the story of two sisters who love each other and support one another through some very difficult times in their lives. They deal with jealousy and betrayal as well as an undying loyalty to one another. It is a good read, though difficult at times.

Excerpts from the book:
“An educated woman is a worthless woman.” – Confucius

We may look and act modern in many ways, but we can’t escape what we are: obedient Chinese daughters.

I thought I was modern. I thought I had a choice. I thought I was nothing like my mother. But my father’s gamblings has swept all that away. I am to be sold – traded like so many girls before me – to help my family. I feel so trapped and so helpless that I can hardly breathe.

In Shanghai, life flows like an endlessly serene river for the wealthy, the lucky, the fortunate. For those with bad fates, the smell of desperation is as strong as a rotting corpse.

Maybe we are all like that with our mothers. They seem ordinary until one day they are extraordinary.

“There is no catastrophe except death; one cannot be poorer than a beggar.”

So often we’re told that women’s stories are unimportant. After all, what does it matter what happens in the main room, in the kitchen, or in the bedroom? Who cares about the relationships between mother, daughter, and sister? …We’re told that men are strong and brave, but I think women know how to endure, accept defeat, and bear physical, and mental agony much better than men.

2012 Book 3: Heaven is for Real

I on a roll – three books in two weeks. Awesome. I know that as Jack gets bigger it is probably going to be more of a challenge to squeeze in my reading.

The third book I read this year was Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo, Lynn Vincent, Sonja Burpo and Colton Burpo. It is a fascinating glimpse of heaven through the eyes of a little boy who almost died due to a ruptured appendix. 
I am a believer in heaven and it was very interesting to see heaven through the eyes of four-year-old boy. Sadly there is a cynical part of me that has doubts about the truth of the story. But I really want to believe in Colton’s experience… it really did seem for real.
As a new parent, the first part of the book about how Todd and Sonja Burpo almost lost Colton was extremely difficult to read. I am a fairly stoic person and I have to admit to crying while I read. It made me want to hold my little boy a little tighter.

2012 Book 2: Catching Fire

My second book for the year was Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, part II of The Hunger Games trilogy. In Catching Fire we learn that Katniss and Peeta have become symbols of rebellion against The Capitol and President Snow is bound and determined to make them pay for this rebellion.

Catching Fire was very fascinating though it didn’t quite hold the same intrigue for me as The Hunger Games did. I think this is because I found the storyline in The Hunger Games to be very unexpected and I found myself anticipating much of what happened in Catching Fire. That being said, Catching Fire is still a great book and I am looking forward to reading Mockingjay and finding out how the series ends.

2012 Book 1: The Secret Garden

To kick off the new year I read on of my all-time favorite books, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This is probably the only book that I have read multiple times. When I was about 11 I had a copy and it was dog-eared. I read that book so many times I had entire passages memorized. I absolutely adored it. I still love it.

Excerpts from the book:
If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.
One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever. One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands out and throws one’s head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one’s heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun–which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. One knows it then for a moment or so. And one knows it sometimes when one stands by oneself in a wood at sunset and the mysterious deep gold stillness slanting through and under the branches seems to be saying slowly again and again something one cannot quite hear, however much one tries. Then sometimes the immense quiet of the dark blue at night with the millions of stars waiting and watching makes one sure; and sometimes a sound of far-off music makes it true; and sometimes a look in someone’s eyes.
Much more surprising things can happen to anyone who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable, determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place.
At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done–then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.
Two things cannot be in one place. Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow.